IP Trailblazer: Fenwick & West's David Hayes

October 31, 2014

The National Law Journal profiled Fenwick & West intellectual property partner David Hayes as one of 50 attorneys recognized nationally by NLJ as 2014 Intellectual Property Pioneers & Trailblazers “who are innovating in the field, helping to change the way copyright, patent, trademark or licensing law is practiced, or how IP is protected and managed.”

The publication noted Hayes’ “pioneering” involvement in the question of whether compiled software code could be copyrighted separately, or if it was considered part of the machine.

“I realized this issue was being litigated by lawyers who didn’t understand the technology and engineers who were not familiar with the legal system. When I went to law school, there were maybe two out of 500 with technical backgrounds. I was one of the earliest members of a generation of lawyers who called themselves ‘computer lawyers.’”

NLJ highlighted Hayes as a “trailblazer” for forging new paths vis a vis the law’s attempts to keep up with innovation, citing his role in helping develop the software “shrink-wrap license” which deemed that consumers agreed to service terms by simply opening the package. “No one knew if it was enforceable, but everyone started using them and they were eventually upheld,” Hayes said. Hayes later adapted the concept to Internet “browse-wrap” agreements, in which customers click a button to similarly indicate acceptance.

“I’ve always tried to understand both the legal issues and the technology pushing the law,” Hayes said.

For the future, Hayes sees a host of issues involving online privacy, virtual currencies and cross-border law disputes. A central question, Hayes said, will be “How do you protect IP rights when information can move throughout the world at the speed of light and be in all countries simultaneously?”

The full profile is available through the NLJ “2014 Intellectual Property Trailblazers & Pioneers” supplement.